How to Melt Wax for Candle Making
Candles are one of the greatest inventions ever made and have been around for centuries. In the beginning, they were used as a source of light and heat. Nowadays, in addition to their original purposes, they also play an important role in aesthetics. They are ideal for adding to your decor, setting a mood and giving off a beautiful aroma.
Candle fanatics all over the world are turning to making their own candles as a way to satisfy their need for this hot little commodity. There are a variety of different types of candles including jar, pillar, tealights and tapers that can be made of many different kinds of wax such as soy, coconut, paraffin and beeswax. Newcomers to the candle making space will often ask themselves “where do I begin?”. Ironically, a candle begins in the same place that it ends… with melting wax.
The way you melt your wax in order to create a candle is very different from the way that you melt a finished candle, however both rely on one very important piece of information, the melt point of the wax.
What is a melt point and why is it important?
The melt point of a wax is the temperature at which it turns from a solid into liquid. It is important to know this information because it will help you to determine the amount of heat that is required to liquify your wax and therefore will help you to decide the method you will use to melt it.
For example, soy wax is a very soft wax that has a lower melt point. This makes it a very easy wax to liquify and offers more options for melting including a microwave. On the other hand, beeswax is a very hard wax that has a higher melting point. Therefore, you require more heat to melt it and will need to use a method that will provide that.
Popular Ways to Melt Wax for Candles
Candle waxes are derived from various oils, fats, and waxy-like substances. The most popular waxes right now come from plants such as soy, coconut and palm due to them being sustainable and renewable. Paraffin wax, a natural mineral byproduct of petroleum refining, is also still quite popular among candle makers.
Melt points vary among the different waxes and will require different methods for melting them. Here we will look at the different methods for melting wax.
How to Melt Candle Wax on Stove
Melting candle wax on a stove is one of the most commonly used methods. In addition to a stove top and your wax, you will also need a double boiler or a homemade version of a double boiler.
A double boiler is standard equipment that most cooks use. You may see people using these double boilers when they need to melt chocolates or frozen items. The double boiler consists of two holders, as the name suggests.
It involves partially filling the bottom portion of the system with water and placing it on top of a heat source like a stove top or hot plate. You will put your wax in the other container and set it on top of the container that you just added water to. You don’t want the top container to be sitting directly in the water, there should be space between the two.
When you heat the system, the water in the first container starts boiling, creating steam that heats the rest of the setup gradually. The heat gently starts raising the temperature of the wax, which makes it melt easily. In this method, you need to heat the system continuously.
If you plan to add fragrance oil or essential oil to your wax, it is a good idea to also have a heat resistant thermometer on hand. This will allow you to heat the wax to the recommended temperature before adding your scented oil. You will want to remove the wax from the heat source before adding the oil.
If you don’t have a double boiler, you can always make one using a pot you have at home as well as a heatproof bowl that is large enough to sit on the rim of the pot. Like with the double boiler, you will add approximately 2” of water to the pot that will sit directly on the heat.
Once the water has reached a boil, reduce the heat to low and place the bowl on top of the pot. Place some of your wax into the bowl and allow the wax to melt fully. Once again, use your thermometer to measure the temperature before adding scent to your wax.
This method of melting wax is ideal for soy, coconut, and paraffin wax. For waxes that have a higher melt point, this method can take a considerable amount of time and may not be the best way to melt those types of wax.
How to Melt Beeswax for Candle Making
Beeswax is one of the hardest waxes that a candle maker can work with and as a result has a very high melt point of 143F - 149F. This melt point means that it would take quite a long time to melt beeswax in a double boiler system. As a result, some prefer to melt their beeswax in a heat resistant container that is directly on the heat source.
An element melter would be the preferred method for melting beeswax, as it offers a more controlled way of heating your wax. We will discuss these melters further later on. However, if you don’t have access to an element melter and you choose to use direct heat, be sure to set the temperature to low and DO NOT walk away. Overheating beeswax can destroy some of its natural qualities and leave it a dirty brown color with burnt scent to it.
How to Melt Soy Wax for Candle Making
Soy wax is an all natural, plant based, sustainable and renewable wax. That is why it is so popular among candle makers. It is also a very easy wax to work with, making it ideal for beginners to the candle making space.
Generally, soy is a very soft wax with a low melt point. However, there are some soy wax blends that are mixed with other botanical waxes such as palm, that give it a higher melt point. This allows them to be used for things like pillar and votive candles.
Soy wax that is meant to be used in containers has a melt point between 120F - 130F. With a melt point this low, soy wax is very easy to melt. In addition to a double boiler, element melters and water jacketed melters, soy wax can also be melted using a microwave.
To use a microwave to melt your soy wax, you would use the same technique that you would use to melt butter or chocolate. Just like butter and chocolate, soy wax will go from a solid to a liquid very quickly. You need to be careful not to overheat the wax.
Put your wax in a heat resistant container that is microwave safe. Set the microwave on low and heat the wax using 30 second intervals. In between intervals, slowly stir the wax and then repeat. Continue this process until the wax is completely melted. You can use a heat resistant thermometer to ensure that the wax has reached the desired temperature before adding scent to it.
Using Element Melters and Water Jacketed Melters
If you are making large quantities of candles on a regular basis, you may find the methods we have described above very time consuming. You may decide that a larger melting appliance would better suit your needs. Two options that you could explore are element melters and water jacketed melters.
An element melter is an appliance that has a large pot and an attached heating element. These melters allow you to melt a lot of wax at one time. They will keep your wax at a consistent controlled temperature helping to reduce the chance of overheating. You will want to set it on a low temperature and you must make sure to unplug your appliance when you are finished making your candles.
A water jacketed melter works on the same principle as a double boiler. This eliminates hot spots that could scorch your wax. They have big tanks that vary in size that allow you to melt large quantities of wax over a long period of time. The inner tank where you put your wax is surrounded by an outer layer that is filled with water.
If your candle business is growing, it is highly recommended that you look into investing in one of these types of melters.
Is Melting Wax for Candle Making Safe?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. If done correctly using constant supervision and the proper heating method, melting wax for candle making is very safe. You don’t ever want to walk away when you are heating wax using any of the methods described above. It is also not recommended that you attempt to melt your wax quickly by using high aggressive temperatures. Make sure that you have enough time to heat your wax gradually to avoid scorching it.
Safety Measures for Melting Wax for Candle Making
Let us take a look at the safety measures that you should follow to make your candle-making safer.
Have an Extinguisher with You
Always have a fire extinguisher near you when you melt wax for candle making. You should start by reading the instructions on the extinguishers to learn how to operate them. Hopefully, you will not need to use it, but you will not have the time to read the instructions if you do. Thus, we suggest taking the time out and educating yourself on how to use the fire extinguisher. Remember, you cannot use water on a wax fire because it is an oil based substance.
NEVER Leave the Melting Wax Unattended
Melting wax usually takes a lot of time, but it is still essential to be vigilant throughout the process. The wax melting process usually touches temperatures as high as 200 F. It is important to monitor the wax so that it does not reach the flashpoint (The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be made to ignite momentarily in air) provided by the wax manufacturer.
Make the Most of a Double Boiler
We suggest melting wax with the double boiler if you wish to avoid accidents. Using a double boiler is a great way to distribute heat throughout the melting wax evenly. Additionally, the temperature never exceeds 212 F in a double boiler, making it a safe option for melting wax.
Don’t Use an Open Flame Heat Source
It is highly recommended that you use an electric heat source rather than one with an open flame. This will avoid the possibility of wax spillage or even vapors from the candle making process from coming into contact with the flame and causing a fire.
Use a Thermometer
Finally, you should always have a heat resistant thermometer with you when you melt wax. The thermometer will help you keep an eye on the exact temperature through the melting process. If you do not have a thermometer, put it on your list and get it before you start making your candles.
There are many options available for melting wax and achieving the best results. However, you always want to stay vigilant no matter what melting method you choose to use. We hope that this guide helps you as you move throughout your candle making journey. Feel free to contact us for more info.